When night falls across the Arizona desert, there is a vastness, an openness, an eerie quiet that seems to descend on the cactus plants and weather worn rocks. But if you listen closely you can hear a sound, a voice actually, emanating from a radio, that is as familiar to the inhabitants of the Grand Canyon State as the sweltering daytime temperatures.

For over 35 years and over 3,400 games, that voice, the voice of Al McCoy, has been telling the tale of the Phoenix Suns as the team’s radio broadcaster from his courtside perch, and if you were to ask anyone who follows the team, they couldn’t think of listening to anyone else describe the action.

How else could one explain the countless awards that have been bestowed on McCoy during his distinguished career behind the microphone, from being named the best play-by-play announcer by Phoenix Magazine for eight straight years (for the record, every year the distinction has been made by the magazine), to having the media center named after him at U.S. Airways Center (to be unveiled for the 2007-08 season), to being the first play-by-play announcer to be inducted into the Arizona Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

Most recently, McCoy has been honored yet again as the electronic recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award at this year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement, the grandest stage of all for a man who has made a name for himself calling the action of the NBA.

McCoy joins a who’s-who list of sports’ great storytellers who previously won the award, including NBAers Marty Glickman, Chick Hearn, Johnny Most and Marv Albert to name a few. Not bad company for a self-proclaimed Iowa farm boy whose catchphrases are as much a part of Phoenix Suns basketball lore as the infamous “Shot Heard Round the World” by Garfield Heard in 1976, the Suns run to the NBA Finals in 1993, and the current on-court wizardry of Steve Nash.

Now 73 years old, McCoy hasn’t hinted at stepping away from a job that is surely the envy of every NBA fan. So with a new season fast approaching, fans of the Suns can rest assured that McCoy will be there when the ball goes up to punctuate every three-pointer with a “Shazam!” and every swish with a well-timed “Zing go the strings!” However, having never tasted the champagne that comes with a championship, Suns players and fans can only hope that the final words of the 2007-08 season that come out of McCoy’s mouth aren’t “heartbreak hotel.”

Regardless, next time you are standing alone in the Arizona desert, remember to listen intently so as not to miss the voice of a legend as it fills the nighttime.